Extended family is important in Mexico. Grandparents often live near their grown children if not in the same house and as a result, are part of the daily lives of their grandchildren.
In our family, my son’s abuelo (grandfather) lives just up the road. My husband lived with his grandmother, Mama Sofia, for a time as a teenager. We visited Papa Rique and Mama Vira regularly. Mama and Papa are the shortened forms of Mama Grande and Papa Grande which are the terms used in Cerano for grandparents rather than abuelo/abuela.
So it’s no surprise that Mexico has a day to celebrate grandparents. Most Catholic nations celebrate Grandparents’ Day on July 26 because this is the feast day of Joaquin and Ana whose feast day is July 25. Joachim and Anne were Mary’s parents and therefore Jesus’ grandparents. But not Mexico. According to some sources, under Porfirio Diaz (which incidentally is my husband’s grandfather’s name and my son’s middle name) events and activities to honor the elderly in the community occurred during the celebration of the feast day of Agustin de Hipona on August 28. Another source credits the idea of Grandparents’ Day to Lazaro Cardenas. Apparently, he made mention that there should be a holiday to celebrate grandparents, but I wasn’t able to find any proof that he actually established a day. A third story says that Edgar Gaytan Monzon, a radio announcer, developed the idea of Grandparents’ Day because he felt that the UN’s International Day of Older Persons excluded those who were grandparents in their 30s, 40s or 50s. Being a younger grandparent is not uncommon in Mexico. The average age of a woman having her first child is 21.3 years, although in our area it seems the average age is about 18. So if a woman has her first child at 21 and her child has his or her first child at 21, the woman will be a grandmother at 42. My husband’s sister became a grandmother this month. She’s 40. The dates don’t make sense for this last one to be true. International Day of Older Persons was established after Grandparents’ Day.
What’s more likely is that Mexico saw that the US had a day for Grandparents established in 1978 and thought it was a good idea. Regardless of whose idea it was, since 1983, Grandparents’ Day has been observed on August 28 in Mexico.
It’s customary for grandchildren to make a card or other small craft to give to their grandparents. Sometimes a special meal is prepared. As with the other family holidays, the most important thing is to spend time together.